Detroit River Restoration Tour

Event Date: 8/17/2017

The Detroit River has seen its fair share of environmental challenges. Now, after years of dedicated restoration work, the Detroit River and its ecosystems are heading toward recovery.

On August 17, 2017, join the Friends of the Detroit River, Michigan Sea Grant, and our many partners as we celebrate the hard work and dedication of those who have helped shape a new future for the Detroit River. This is your opportunity to visit the habitat restoration sites of Grosse Ile and Belle Isle for an up close, behind the scenes, expert-guided tour.

During the event, you will have the opportunity to:

  • Tour Stony Island by boat
  • Visit the Dossin Great Lakes Museum on Belle Isle
  • See Belle Isle restoration highlights such as Lake Okanoka and Blue Heron Lagoon
  • Connect with river restoration groups, elected officials, media partners, and project supporters
  • Meet a live sturgeon

Would you like to join the celebration?

Registration: ow.ly/DiBq30cQDBf

Contact: Mary Bohling, (313) 410-9431, bohling@msu.edu

Sustainable Small Harbors Webinar

Event Date: 5/8/2017

Michigan Sea Grant to host webinar about Sustainable Small Harbors project findings and next steps

On May 8 at 2–3:30 p.m. EDT, Michigan Sea Grant will host a webinar titled, “The Sustainable Small Harbors Project: Helping coastal communities re-imagine their waterfront.”

This webinar will provide an overview of the Sustainable Small Harbors project, an initiative to boost the long-term well-being of Michigan’s coastal communities. All people involved in coastal communities, both in and outside of Michigan, are invited to participate.

The Sustainable Small Harbors project arose in 2014 when many of Michigan’s small coastal communities were struggling to cope with fluctuating water levels, declining populations, and economic instability. The project research team (consisting of Lawrence Technological University, Environmental Consulting & Technology, Inc., Veritas Economic Consulting, LLC, and David Larkin Knight, LLC) has assessed barriers preventing small harbor communities from becoming socially, economically, and environmentally sustainable.

Members of the project research team along with personnel from Michigan Sea Grant and Michigan State University Extension facilitated in-depth visioning workshops in six coastal communities to help community members identify potential growth areas for their waterfronts. By May 2017, the team will publish a guidebook to help other coastal communities analyze their own waterfront assets and develop strategies to bolster their long-term economic, social, and environmental stability.

“This effort empowers communities to overcome the burdens of their historic legacies,” says Jon Allan, director of the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality’s Office of the Great Lakes. “The process engaged community members in constructive conversations to create a shared vision.”

The 90-minute webinar will provide an overview of the project’s history, major findings and outcomes, and future directions. Representatives from the cities of New Baltimore and Ontonagon will speak about their experiences with the project. The webinar will conclude with an open question-and-answer session.

Registration is required to participate in this webinar, scheduled for May 8, 2017, at 2–3:30 p.m. EDT. Please register at: https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/8474664373942398467

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email with details about joining the webinar. Learn more about the project at: www.sustainablesmallharbors.org

Contact: Rhett Register, Michigan Sea Grant; (734) 647-0767, rregist@umich.edu 

Seminar: Fish Spawning Reef Planning Techniques

Event Date: 5/15/2017

reef-restoration-graphic

This seminar will be held in conjunction with the International Association for Great Lakes Research (IAGLR) 2017 conference in Detroit. You do not need to register for IAGLR to participate.

A number of factors, including construction of shipping channels, land use changes and dams, have degraded rocky fish spawning habitat or made it inaccessible to native, migratory fish. One method for compensating for spawning habitat losses is to construct fish spawning reefs, essentially beds of loose rock placed on the river bottom that provide adequate protection and flow through the rocks for egg incubation. Though simple in concept, reef projects need to be carefully sited and designed to avoid accumulating sediment, attract desired fish and support young fish through the critical early life stages.

This team- taught seminar will share techniques developed through eight reef projects established in the St. Clair and Detroit River System over the past fifteen years. Specific topics will include: site assessment and selection, hydrodynamics and sedimentation concerns, reef design and construction strategies and monitoring of early life stages of fish.

One highlight of the workshop will be a practical lesson on river hydraulics and sediment transport and a hand-on exercise with free river modeling software, led by a scientist from the USGS Geomorphology and Sediment Transport Lab. This interactive seminar is open to all types of restoration practitioners, including professional engineers, project managers, researchers and anyone hoping to champion, design or monitor a constructed spawning reef in Great Lakes nearshore areas, connecting channels or larger rivers.

Date: Monday, May 15, 2017
Time: 9:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Location: IAGLR’s Great Lakes Research Conference, Cobo Center Room 258, 1 Washington Blvd, Detroit, Michigan
Continuing Education: Seminar participants will receive a certificate showing they completed 7 hours of continuing education suitable for professional license renewals.
Cost: $75 for professionals, $30 for students 
Registration deadline: 5:00 p.m., May 10, 2017
Cancellation: No refunds will be issued for cancellations after May 5.

For professionals ($75):
 

For students ($30):

For questions, contact:
Lynn Vaccaro
University of Michigan Water Center
Lvaccaro@umich.edu
(734) 763-0056

Putting back the (Little) Rapids: River restoration in the Saint Marys Area of Concern

Improving water flow, fish spawning habitat likely to improve river’s health.

Fishing using traditional methods in the Saint Mary’s River Rapids circa 1902. Photo: Detroit Publishing Co. [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Fishing using traditional methods in the Saint Mary’s River Rapids circa 1902. Photo: Detroit Publishing Co. [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Visit the Saint Marys River today in the bi-national cities of Sault Ste. Marie, and you will experience a vibrant area based largely around the locks structures that allow large ships to pass between Canada and the United States on lakes Superior and Huron. These impressive structures support both an important commercial shipping industry as well as a thriving tourism industry. However, travel back in time prior to the 1600s and the Saint Marys River looked vastly different. Pounding rapids, coastal wetlands, and rustic islands created wildlife habitat for a large variety of species. In particular, the rapids of the Saint Marys provided spawning habitat for native fish species including lake whitefish and lake sturgeon. This thriving fishery was used as tribal fishing grounds for thousands of years by Native Americans and later attracted fur traders and European settlers to the area.

map of little rapids area

Since the industrial development of Sault Ste. Marie, portions of the river closest to the city have seen large amounts of habitat degradation. While impressive wetlands and riparian habitat still exist downstream of the cities, the area of the river nearest to them has had severe habitat degradation along with contamination from nearby industry, which have resulted in it receiving an international designation as an Area of Concern. Areas of Concern (AOCs) are designated by the bi-national Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement as areas where “… impairment of beneficial uses has occurred as a result of human activities.” AOCs designated through this agreement now receive special attention through state, provincial, tribal and federal governments and funding through the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative. The goal of this funding is to remove contaminants and restore habitat so the areas can be “delisted” and can once again be enjoyed by humans and wildlife alike.

Throughout the last 30 years, a number of activities have improved the habitat and water quality within the Saint Marys AOC, and around 3 years ago a collaborative effort began to restore a section of the rapids. The bi-national public advisory committee, which provides input on the cleanup and delisting process for the AOC, partnered with many local agencies to initiate an effort to restore fast flowing rapids to a section of the river near Sugar Island known as the “Little Rapids.” More than a half-century ago, a road and berm were created near the island’s ferry dock that had only two small culverts, restricting flow to a slow trickle. These culverts were beginning to deteriorate and the committee saw an opportunity to replace the aging structure with a bridge and reconnect the natural fast flow that once existed. Given that only 10 percent of the original rapids remain within this stretch of the Saint Marys River, restoring them could have a large, positive impact.

Over the last two years, funds from the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative were used to plan the design and construction, perform scientific studies to assure the process would result in a positive outcome, and over the course of summer 2016 the construction was completed. Many agencies such as the Eastern Upper Peninsula Regional Planning and Development Commission and Lake Superior State University (LSSU) Aquatic Research Lab assisted with public outreach and scientific studies to ensure the success of the project.

On a recent visit to the site, Dr. Ashley Moerke of LSSU commented on how impressive it was that the riverbed was already returning to its original state. Where silt and sand once existed, there is now lush cobble and gravel riverbeds scoured clean by the fast moving water. Moerke notes that in areas of the river that retain fast flowing rapids the macroinvertebrate life is far more diverse and rich than in degraded areas such as the Little Rapids site prior to restoration. By restoring the rapids, not only will spawning habitat be created for native fish, but increased macroinvertebrate populations could create higher quality food sources for a variety of fish species. Wading and small craft fishing opportunities for species such as walleye, whitefish, trout and salmon are likely a reality thanks to the Little Rapids restoration project. Prior to this project there were no accessible rapids for fishing on the U.S. side of the Saint Marys.

The Little Rapids restoration project is a great example of how multiple organizations can partner together to improve habitat for humans and wildlife alike within the Great Lakes region. The restoration of these rapids has the potential to improve fish populations, fishing opportunities, and ultimately contribute towards the delisting of the Saint Mary’s River as an international AOC.

Planning for the future of Rogers City’s Waterfront

Event Date: 10/25/2016
End Date: 10/27/2016

sustainable-small-harbors-rogers-city

News Release

For Immediate Release

Contact:
Joe Hefele
City Manager, Rogers City
(989) 734-2191

[Rogers City, Mich.] – On September 14, more than 80 Rogers City residents met at the Rogers City Theater to discuss the future of the city’s waterfront. The Rogers City community is now invited to the next phase of the case study.

From October 25 to 27, the city and project team will host a three-day planning meeting, or “design charrette,” to identify a shared vision for the community’s waterfront.

Three public events and several technical meetings are scheduled. Participants will explore ways to further distinguish Rogers City as a unique waterfront community and destination.

The state- and federally-funded project aims to assist coastal communities in identifying planning objectives to ensure a secure future for public harbors. Design and planning professionals will assist the community in developing a vision for the waterfront based on hands-on public participation.

Public Events for the Sustainable Harbor Design Charrette

Day 1: October 25
6 – 8 p.m.
Public Input Workshop

Day 2: October 26
6 – 8 p.m.
Open House: Selecting a Preferred Option

Day 3: October 27
4 – 6 p.m.
Public “Work in Progress” Session for Rogers City Waterfront

Evening events are held at the Presque Isle District Library, Rogers City, 181 E. Erie St.

Charrette team open studio at City Hall, Rogers City, 193 E. Michigan Avenue on October 26 and 27 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

What to Expect

On day one of the charrette, participants will identify several specific planning options for the waterfront and surroundings. During the open house on day two, participants will view visual depictions of the options identified on day one and will work towards a preferred option for the waterfront and surroundings. Day three will provide a review of the “work-in-progress” vision to ensure the research team accurately captured community preferences put forth throughout the process.

The research team will then return in several weeks with the community’s refined vision and supporting materials before delivering planning resources to the community.

Participants in the charrette will have the opportunity to consider many characteristics of the community including accessibility, available dockage, retail and service amenities, parks and recreation, aesthetic values, and finances. Each of these characteristics is important in positioning Rogers City as an environmentally, socially, and economically secure harbor community.

The research team will be stationed at the City Hall city council chambers through much of Wednesday and Thursday to develop visual and technical supporting materials for the preferred option. If you are unable to attend the evening open houses or are interested in the charrette process, you are welcome to visit the research team at City Hall between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. on Wednesday and Thursday.

All Rogers City residents are encouraged to participate. Refreshments will be available for the three public sessions and no registration is required.

Sessions will take place at the Presque Isle District Library meeting room at 181 E. Erie Street, Rogers City.

For more information on the project, visit: www.miseagrant.umich.edu/smallharborsustainability.

Additional Contacts

Dr. Donald Carpenter, P.E.
Project Manager
Lawrence Technological University
carpenter@ltu.edu
(248) 204-2549

Mark Breederland
Educator & Facilitator
Michigan Sea Grant Extension
breederl@msu.edu
(231) 922-4628

Dan Leonard
Northeast region Community Assistance Team
Michigan Economic Development Corporation
Leonardd6@michigan.org
(989) 387-4467

Visioning for City of St. Ignace Waterfront

Event Date: 10/24/2016

sustainable-small-harbors-st-ignace

News Release

For Immediate Release

Contact:
Clyde Hart or Les Therrien
City of St. Ignace
(906) 643-9671
simgr@lighthouse.net

[St. Ignace, Mich.] – The City of St. Ignace has been selected as a case study community in developing a sustainable small harbor management strategy for Michigan’s coastal communities. A research and design team will engage the St. Ignace community in an exercise to identify opportunities to secure the economic, social, and environmental sustainability of public waterfront facilities and the nearby community.

Driven by input from local citizens and community leaders, the project will review a draft coastal community sustainability toolkit and create some updated vision options for the City of St. Ignace harbor and waterfront. This will include learning from potential management strategies useful for small harbors elsewhere in Michigan and, more specifically, to assist the City of St. Ignace with identifying planning objectives that help ensure a more secure future.

The project is supported by the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality’s Office of the Great Lakes, Michigan Department of Natural Resources, Lawrence Technological University, Edgewater Resources, Michigan Sea Grant, Michigan Department of Talent and Economic Development, and Michigan Economic Development Corporation.

Public Meetings for Sustainable Harbor Visioning

Visioning Meeting
2–5 p.m. Monday, Oct. 24, 2016
St. Ignace Public Library
110 W. Spruce Street
St. Ignace, Michigan  49781

Agenda and more details available at: www.miseagrant.umich.edu/smallharborsustainability/get-involved/st-ignace/

Benefits to St. Ignace

As one of six case study communities, St. Ignace will benefit from in-depth visioning assessment — typically valued into the thousands of dollars — at no direct cost. The multi-disciplinary project team will host a key meeting to garner feedback, develop ideas, and create a sustainable vision for the St. Ignace waterfront and nearby areas.

Share Your Vision

Developing a vision for a sustainable harbor requires input from a wide range of stakeholders, including landowners, waterfront users, planning officials, chamber of commerce members, and local citizens. To share your vision, please attend this upcoming public meeting to collaboratively develop vision elements for the St. Ignace waterfront.

The visioning meeting is scheduled for 2 –5 p.m. Monday, October 24, 2016, at the St. Ignace Public Library, 110 W. Spruce Street,  St. Ignace, Michigan. Discussion will include pedestrian access, harbor use, and linking the waterfront to downtown and commercial areas.

 

Additional Contacts:

Mark Breederland
Educator & Facilitator
Michigan Sea Grant Extension
breederl@msu.edu
(231) 922-4628

Dr. Donald Carpenter, P.E.
Project Manager
Lawrence Technological University
carpenter@ltu.edu
(248) 204-2549

St. Clair – Detroit River System Initiative Annual Meeting

Event Date: 2/11/2016

Establishing Priority Indicators for Coordinated Action 2016-2023

February 11, 2016

Wayne County Community College, Downriver Campus
21000 Northline Road
Taylor, Michigan

9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. EST. Registration opens at 8:00 a.m.

Registration in now open for the 2016 SCDRS Annual Meeting! Registration will be open until COB February 5. The fee this year is $45.

Agenda topics include:

  • Steering, Science & Monitoring and Communications Committee updates
  • Themed updates (Fisheries, Habitat, AIS, AOCs, Nutrients and Societal Satisfaction)
  • Two rounds of breakout sessions on draft SCDRS Indicators to track progress in the SCDRS

A block of rooms are on hold for Feb 10–11 for $85 under the St. Clair – Detroit River System Initiative at the Comfort Suites.

Thank you to this year’s sponsors:  ECT, Inc., DTE Energy, and SmithGroupJJR!  If your organization is interested in being a sponsor of the SCDRS Initiative, please contact Mary Bohling.

Additional questions?

Michelle Selzer
SCDRS Communication Subcommittee Chair
Lake Erie Coordinator
Michigan Office of the Great Lakes
(517) 284-5050

A History of Wetlands in Michigan

Lake St. Clair Metropark, frog

Coastal wetlands are among the most biologically productive ecosystems in the world, supporting an incredible variety of species. However, for many decades wetlands were viewed as blight on the landscape – dangerous wastelands filled with disease. This three-part series explores the historic role of wetlands in Michigan and more contemporary understandings of the full benefits wetlands provide to both human and natural communities. Part One and Part Two outline the ecological and economic benefits that wetlands bring to Michigan. Part Three discusses the history of land use change in Michigan and how these trends have shaped the state of wetlands today.

Three-part series:

Creating a Vision for Ontonagon’s Waterfront

Event Date: 10/1/2015

Downtown Ontonagon from across the river

Downtown Ontonagon from across the river. Credit: ryangs (Flickr)

News Release

For Immediate Release

Contact: Joe Erickson
Ontonagon Village Manager
(906) 884-2305

[Ontonagon, Mich.] – Ontonagon has been selected as a case study community to develop a sustainable small harbor management strategy for Michigan’s coastal communities. In a six-month engagement process, a research and design team will engage the Ontonagon community in an exercise to identify opportunities to secure the economic, social and environmental sustainability of public waterfront facilities.

With help from local citizens, the project will develop an economic model and sustainability toolkit. This will include potential management strategies for small harbors in Michigan and assist communities with identifying planning objectives that help ensure a more secure future.

The project is supported by the Department of Environmental Quality’s Office of the Great Lakes, Department of Natural Resources, Lawrence Technological University, Michigan Sea Grant and the Michigan State Housing Development Authority.

Benefits to Ontonagon

As one of four case study communities, Ontonagon will benefit from in-depth analysis and economic assessment — typically valued into the tens of thousands of dollars — at no direct cost. The assessment will shed light on barriers to financial sustainability and identify potential solutions, reducing dependence on declining external funding.

The project team will host an initial meeting and then a three-day public planning meeting, or “community design charrette,” to garner feedback, develop ideas and create a sustainable vision for Ontonagon’s waterfront. The research and design team will then compile community input to develop a harbor sustainability plan specific to Ontonagon, plus a case study on the process and outcomes to be used as part of the harbor sustainability toolkit. The toolkit will be shared to help other communities in Michigan move forward in drafting their own sustainable harbor and waterfront plans.

Share Your Vision

Developing a vision for a sustainable harbor requires input from a wide range of stakeholders, including landowners, waterfront users, planning officials and local citizens. To share your vision, attend upcoming public meetings to collaboratively develop a plan for Ontonagon’s waterfront.

The initial visioning meeting is scheduled for 6–8 p.m. Thursday, October 1, at the Gogebic-Ontonagon Community Action Agency meeting room (429 River Street, Ontonagon). Please enter the building from Spar Street. Those who attend the initial meeting will have the chance to weigh in on the future of Ontonagon’s waterfront and will help identify assets linked to existing or potential public waterfront uses and/or facilities. Discussion will include pedestrian access, harbor use and linking the waterfront to downtown and commercial areas.

In the community design charrette scheduled for November 5–7 at the Gogebic-Ontonagon Community Action Agency meeting room, participants will assess and prioritize design and planning options. The result will be a preliminary vision for the public waterfront as an asset to the community. The three-day design charrette will include small working groups (by invitation) and public sessions. A detailed agenda will be made available on the project website as the event date draws near. To learn more, visit: www.miseagrant.umich.edu/smallharborsustainability.

Public Meetings for Sustainable Harbor Visioning

  • Initial Visioning Meeting
    Thursday, October 1, 6–8 p.m.
    Gogebic-Ontonagon Community Action Agency meeting room
  • Community Design Charrette
    November 5–7
    Gogebic-Ontonagon Community Action Agency meeting room

Additional Contacts

Amy Samples
Coastal Resilience Specialist
Michigan Sea Grant
asamples@umich.edu
(734) 647-0766

Dr. Donald Carpenter
Project Manager
Lawrence Technological University
carpenter@ltu.edu
(248) 204-2549

Joe Erickson
Ontonagon Village Manager    
ontmgr@jamadots.com
(906) 884-2305

Webinar: Using Adaptive Management for Fish Habitat Restoration

Event Date: 3/26/2015

Michigan Sea Grant Extension Educator Mary Bohling will discuss how adaptive management was employed to build fish populations in the St. Clair and Detroit rivers. Her discussion, Using Adaptive Management to Create Sustainable Great Lakes Fish Communities via Habitat Restoration will be the featured talk during the March 26 Interagency Ecological Restoration Quality Committee Webinar Series. The presentations will be approximately 30 minutes long, followed by an open discussion.

The Interagency Ecological Restoration Quality Committee hosts monthly webinars in an effort to bring restoration practitioners from across the country together to present and discuss the innovations aimed at improving the quality of ecosystem restoration data.

To join: Click Here; Phone 800-782-1258, access code 1025910

More details: Series Flyer (PDF)